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Boynton Beach wants ideas from developers on its new downtown

Boynton Beach in the coming months will ask design teams to be part of a public-private partnership and submit ideas on how to redevelop the four-block Town Square area, 17 acres adjacent to Boynton Beach Boulevard east of Interstate 95, to be developed as the city’s downtown.

Those proposals must have the historic 1927 high school included in some way. Also, a new 50,000-square-foot City Hall and green space should be included, and the library and Schoolhouse Children’s Museum and Learning Center are to remain there, City Commissioners decided at a workshop Monday.

While the police department and Fire Station No. 1 are in the redevelopment area, the city is open to moving them.

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Colin Groff, an assistant city manager, encouraged the commission to be as “flexible” as possible so more developers would be interested and would propose better ideas.

The city’s staff will create the request for proposals and submit it to the commission for approval around September. It could take six months before negotiations begin, and at least a year before shovels are in the ground, said Lori LaVerriere, the city manager.

Boynton’s costs for this redevelopment are not yet known. Neither is how that money will be raised. A new City Hall could cost about $15-$18 million. A new police building could be $25-$30 million. And a new fire station, $3-$5 million, city documents state.

Developing a police station and fire station together would save money, said Groff. Ocean Breeze East off Seacrest Boulevard in the Heart of Boynton could be a place for both. A police station could be built on city property on High Ridge Road. A fire station could be built at the AmeriGas property on Federal Highway the Community Redevelopment Agency recently bought.

Other requirements from the city include: a public event lawn, amphitheater, and public gathering space; an entrance and gateway feature at Ocean Avenue and Seacrest Boulevard; and street enhancements and on-street parking on those streets. The city’s only requirement for the high school is that it be used in some way. That could mean just the facade and footprint are kept, or the historical portions of the school are recreated.

Boynton already planned on developing the area through a public-private partnership, but hadn’t yet asked for proposals. The city has received two unsolicited proposals, one of which was rejected because it did not include the historic school.

Rick Gonzalez submitted a plan that would develop the high school into a cultural arts community center and would include a residential and commercial component. Gonzalez asked the city to come up with $1.5 million to be paid over three years, and about $300,000 each year with a 3 percent increase to lease space for community programs. If the city chose to lease it for 20 years, Boynton would pay about $11.7 million.

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